Posted Thursday, August 12, 2021 by Team Northwoods

Engagement vs. Efficiency: Which Matters More for Economic Assistance?

Economic assistance program leaders are typically motivated to modernize their technology for one of two reasons—improving client engagement or increasing caseworker efficiency. Both are important, but which one has a larger impact across the agency?

I’ll give you a hint … that’s a trick question! If you evaluate technology through just one of these lenses, you may inadvertently hinder your agency from realizing its full potential.

Based on your priority—engagement or efficiency—you likely hope to achieve some version of the following results:

Increasing Client Engagement

Improving Operational Efficiency

  • Providing holistic services
  • Allowing real-time collaboration
  • Opening up multiple communication channels
  • Enabling one-touch resolution
  • Improving caseworker morale
  • Working through backlogs
  • Meeting timeliness requirements
  • Increasing productivity and accountability
  • Demonstrating compliance
  • Streamlining internal processes

Each column on its own would certainly alleviate some stress on your agency. However, if you invest in technology that’s only designed to support one or the other, you’ll miss out on a whole host of additional benefits that could help you realize value faster. A couple of examples:

Engagement without efficiency.

Clients should have access to multiple channels to engage the agency, but without anything on the backend to automate the processes that start after a client submits their information, a caseworker will still have to manually enter it into an eligibility system. Omnichannel communication without a plan to improve operational efficiency places additional burden on the agency to respond timely as well.

Efficiency without engagement. 

Simply using technology to process more applications and check boxes faster than before is selling yourself short. The focus should be how workers can use the time they get back to help every individual manage their way forward instead of letting them continue to spiral through the system.

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Putting the Puzzle Together

Instead of thinking about the possibilities of technology as separate siloes, think of them as puzzle pieces. Put everything together and you’ll see the full picture of how the right tool can help your agency regain focus on what matters most—helping others. Here’s an example:

Technology for economic assistance should boost operational efficiency and client engagement simultaneously

  • Work from anywhere. Empowers caseworkers to securely access and manage clients’ case files and information instantly, simultaneously, and from anywhere.
  • Open up access points. Allows clients to use any device they’re comfortable with to submit documents and forms or get in touch with the agency without having to visit in person.
  • Consolidate workstreams. Automatically and securely centralizes documents and information into a single, automated workstream—regardless of how it was submitted.
  • Automate for impact. Automates redundant, manual tasks that previously drained workers’ time to free them up to focus on connecting with clients or handling more complicated cases.
  • Prioritize client’s well-being. Caseworkers can learn the story behind a client’s need for assistance to identify all the support resources they qualify for, not just what they seek out.
  • Improve visibility. Agency leaders have visibility into operations and caseworker workload to meet timeliness and accuracy goals while keeping up morale.

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How Traverse Helps Economic Assistance

We designed Traverse, our next-generation document management software, to help economic assistance agencies improve operational efficiency and increase client engagement at the same time. The cloud-based technology helps agencies address their most pressing challenges, including:

  • Enabling client self-service and real-time collaboration with clients and community partners
  • Supporting continued remote work and telework with secure, web-based technology that supports seamless intra-agency communication, handoffs, and visibility
  • Providing agency leaders visibility into operations and caseworker workload
  • Giving caseworkers more time to connect with clients as individuals and move from focusing on transactions to clients’ stories

We know that many economic assistance caseworkers are buried under a mountain of paperwork and data entry and don’t always have the bandwidth to provide their clients with truly holistic care. Traverse automates portions of this process and streamlines others so that caseworkers can focus on tasks that require a human’s attention. In doing so, they can put the human back in human services.

Reach out if you’d like to learn more!

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